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Research in a world of doubt and social media


There has been a lot of discussion in social media over the past 18 months or so about research, the dangers of misinformation and abuse of social media so I thought I would share some thoughts on what it is like to conduct research in the real world. To provide some context I also work as a salaried lecturer on a 0.5 WTE contract with the University I study at so there is always an ongoing stream of work commitments to meet alongside teaching students. When I get time to commit to my project this is one of the areas that I work in. I took the picture with my laptop - which is why it's missing from the picture. ive finished data collection for the first phase of my project and am looking at ways of theory construction. On the wall by my monitor are three codebooks. Literally lists of codes generated during interviews. The codes are one step removed from the quotes made by participants in interviews and thus represent their views and by default my interpretation. In order to stay close to the data I need to review the codebooks and make sure that my coding is rigorous in that the codes really do reflect the raw data. As you can see the codes have increased in number with each set of interviews conducted. Having now conducted a total of 51 interviews, with 49 participants as you can imagine the data is considerable. I am still looking for the best way to bring the data together into a meaningful model, I believe that codebooks do represent a valid way forward, what is required is that the codes themselves are backed up by reflective memos. If I can do this then, I believe that working with the codebooks will prove to be a valid means of discovering the theory of role identity change that I am looking for. My first point of call therefore will be to complete the memos for all 59 +/- a few extras as codes were revised and sometimes added to and linked together during coding. All this takes time. I am currently in my 3rd year and plan to complete in a further 3. That is how long it takes to uncover new knowledge, of course I am pretty much working on my own because that is what a PhD is. The work though is immense, so when I see on social media people sharing opinions that are totally unresearched and almost totally based on popular opinion or worse misinformation, it can be very frustrating.

Real research takes resilience and commitment, both of which have been shown by researchers creating and delivering the Covid Vaccine. If it is offered to you, please take it. It has literally saved thousands of lives so far and will save thousands more. As a society, we have started to become lax with regards to wearing masks and maintaining social distance with strangers, one only needs to look at the football stadia, now packed on Saturday afternoons, alongside the continued pressure of business interests calling for a return to normal. It is important now, more than ever, that we don't lose sight of the importance of being sensible and cautious. We are approaching winter, which will no doubt lead to an increase in Covid cases. We can't go back to where we were, no one ever can, we just have to move forward adapting to survive. Which takes us back to the first groundbreaking piece of biological research conducted by a guy called Darwin.

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